How to view hidden files on a Mac computer in 2 different ways, to find out more information about your operating system

Business Insider Lifestyle 2 months ago

When clearing out the various files that have built up on your Mac over time, you may notice that there seems to be more files stored on your computer than you can see.

In fact, there are: Hidden files are something that every Mac owner has, whether they know it or not. Many of these hidden files contain critical MacOS information, so if you do want to access them, be careful — accidentally deleting these files can damage your operating system.

Here's how to view those hidden files on your Mac, using either Finder or the Terminal.

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How to view hidden files on a Mac in Finder

This method should only take you a minute or two:

1. Click the Finder in your bottom toolbar (it's the half-tone face icon).

2. On the side toolbar, select the name of your Mac (under "Locations").

3. Double click "Macintosh HD."

Double click Macintosh HD to access your hard drive.

4. Press the Command, Shift, and period keys to display the hidden files — they will appear greyed out on the screen.

The greyed out files are your hidden files, and they will appear after you complete the three-key command.

Repeat the keyboard shortcut to hide the files again. And you can repeat the command in other areas, like your documents or applications folder.

How to view hidden files on a Mac in Terminal

For those who aren't familiar with the Terminal, it's basically a command line system that allows you to take control over, and interact with, your operating system.

To the uninitiated, it will be a more complicated method that's probably not worth the effort. But if you're already with the Mac Terminal, you may find that this process is a bit faster:

1. Open the Terminal (if you haven't added it to your dock, you can find it by clicking the launchpad and searching for "Terminal").

Search Terminal on the the launchpad to find it.
2. Paste in "defaults write AppleShowAllFiles true" and hit the return key.

3. Paste in, or type out, "killall Finder" and hit the return key again.

To make the files hidden again, simply change "true" to "false" in the original command.

You can also opt to hide files by opening the Terminal, pasting in "chflags hidden" and then hitting the space key. Next, drag the files you want to hide to the Terminal screen and hit return to hide them.

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